But until it arrives, newspaper management will just live in an Aldous Huxley novel instead.
A CASE IN POINT: The Wall Street Journal.
Staffers at The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday were given a newly compiled list of rules for "professional conduct," which included a lengthy guide for use of online outlets, noting cautions for activities on social networking sites.
In an e-mail to employees, Deputy Managing Editor Alix Freedman wrote, "We've pulled together into one document the policies that guide appropriate professional conduct for all of us in the News Departments of the Journal, Newswires and MarketWatch. Many of these will be familiar."
Dow Jones spokesman Robert Christie declined to comment to E&P today on why the updated rules were put out at this time, saying they speak for themselves. But it is clear they are in place for those involved in social networking on the likes of Facebook or Twitter, requiring editor approval before "friending" any confidential sources.
"Openly 'friending' sources is akin to publicly publishing your Rolodex," the rules state, adding, "don't disparage the work of colleagues or competitors or aggressively promote your coverage," and "don't engage in any impolite dialogue with those who may challenge your work -- no matter how rude or provocative they may seem."
THE ARTICLE in Editor & Publisher, to me, is another omen -- and not a good one -- concerning the future of newspapers in this country. Right up there with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's paean-to-Luddites ad campaign for its "new" Sunday paper.
The fact is, Twitter and Facebook are excellent ways for a journalist to keep his or her "ear to the ground." And the fact is -- isn't it? -- editors of The Wall Street Journal don't hire immature teens or half-wits.
It seems to me, when you're dealing with adults, a few simple rules should be sufficient:
* Don't trash, or bitch about, your colleagues.
* Don't divulge proprietary information.
* Act like a grown-up and a professional.
* Do promote your stories.
THAT'S IT. Break those rules or do something else stupid, and we're going to have a talk.
You really have to wonder how much productivity, innovation, creativity and morale is lost to idiotic micromanagement and pointless corporate bureaucracy. It seems to me that productivity, innovation, creativity and morale are all things American newspapers have lost too much of already.